Millions of Christians have travelled to the land of the Bible over the last four decades and had their faith and biblical knowledge enhanced in transformative ways. There are so many different reasons why Christians are blessed and inspired by travel to Israel that it is an absolute must for anyone with the time and means to go there. Below is just a sampling of what awaits you in the land of Israel!
1.You will never be the same
My first trip to Israel was in 1978, when I had the opportunity as a University student to do a summer study program in Israel. I have never been the same. Over the years since, I have heard countless Christians tell me that their trip to Israel also changed their life. For me, the change was drastic. I, who dreaded the one year of French language I had to take, returned from Israel and gladly traded it for three years of Hebrew! I, who hated history classes, returned with an excitement and an appetite for history that has still not been satisfied. I, who never knew the first thing about world affairs or current events, returned from Israel an avid student of Middle East affairs – one of the most complex regions of the world. Those are just a few of the things that changed in my life; let’s explore other ways Israel impacts lives.
- Your Bible will come alive
Before going to Israel, I read my Bible every day both devotionally and, as a Bible major in University, doctrinally. But in Israel, I began to study the Bible as a history book — an extremely accurate one backed by archeological finds. I read the Bible not just for spiritual meaning but tracing the stories on maps and visiting the archeological remains of many of the cities. The Bible became so real that it literally stood up and took on a third dimension as an accurate, historical account from which we learn many spiritual lessons.
- Encounter God in a new way
God is not limited to any one location; therefore, we can pray from anywhere in the world and experience His presence in our lives. But, there is something to be said for taking a spiritual pilgrimage to get away from everyday life and seek the Lord with new fervor. A trip to Israel is the perfect getaway to seek the Lord. Walking where Jesus walked, hearing His words anew, seeing the illustrations from everyday life that He used, and understanding His teachings at new levels often leads to special encounters, even healings, that stay with the traveler when they return home.
- Meet the true Jesus
As much as we like to think that we read the Bible as it is intended, most of us are highly influenced by our surroundings and understand the Bible in our own cultural context. That is why for centuries, European art depicted Jesus with a fair complexion, blond hair and blue eyes. Studying the life and words of Jesus in Israel puts him in the correct cultural and religious context. He was the Jewish Messiah who said of Himself that He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. His parables, teachings and lifestyle cannot be fully understood without the Hebraic context in which He ministered.
- Experience prophecy fulfilled
While traveling in Israel, we are surrounded by prophecy fulfilled and the faithfulness of God to His Word. We see that the Jewish people have been gathered from the North, the South, the East and the West; from every nation to which they had been dispersed; first by ship and then by planes; and assisted by the Gentiles; all just as the Bible foretold. God is fulfilling His promises made to the Jewish people, which means Christians can also trust Him. He is a faithful God and His Word is true.
- See a modern miracle
The birth and existence of Israel is nothing short of a modern miracle. Out of the ashes of the Holocaust and the dust of the desert, in just over 65 years, they have created a thriving and prosperous country that is leading the world in innovation, technology, science, medicine, security, agriculture, water conservation and production. This little country of some 8 million people is making the world a safer and better place. What a miracle!
- Touch the apple of His eye
Many Christians understand from their Bible that the Jewish people are God’s Chosen People, but may have little appreciation for what that has meant for them. The Jewish people have carried a calling that no other people group on the face of the earth carries; it is to be the vehicle of God’s redemptive plan. This calling put them directly in the line of fire, and they have suffered much throughout history as a result. To meet Israelis face to face and speak blessing and encouragement to them is often the highlight of a Christian’s trip to Israel.
- Learn How to Pray
Isaiah 62: 6-7 instructs us to be watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem and to pray day and night until God’s promises to the Jewish people, which will bless the world, are fulfilled. After visiting Israel, understanding the security situation, sensing the spiritual tension and getting to know the people and God’s promises to them, one will be able to intercede for the peace of Jerusalem with greater effectiveness and experience the privilege of partnering with God in prayer for the people of Israel, the region, and in fact, the world.
Susan Michael is the US Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem www.icejusa.org. For info on ICEJ tours to Israel for pastors, young adults go to www.icejusa.org/tours.This article is the first in a series to introduce Israel and various biblical sites.